tv Anderson Cooper Special Report CNN October 24, 2013 8:00pm-8:31pm PDT
hello and welcome to the anderson scooper special report "inside blackfish mpltd ki: kil captivity." i'm martin savidge. thank you for being with us. tonight we are going to tackle some of the provocative questions that have been raised by this movie, whether killer whales should ever be kept in captivity, and whether people are ever really safe working with them. with me tonight in the studio, blackfish director gabriella. former president of the alliance of the marine mammal parks. orca biologist rose.
and jack hanna, host of jack hanna's into the wild. welcome all of you. jack, i'm going to start with you. i know for the last hour and a half we have been listening to a specific perspective. let me get your thoughts on what you think of this film. >> well, obviously the film is emotional. having had the honor, i guess you could say, to lead dawn to memorial at seaworld shortly after her death, i've been going to seaworld since 1973. you talk about the term we use at other waterparks and places like seaworld, aquariums and zoos. it touches the heart to teach the minds. i live by that. i've alwaysed lived by that. did this documentary touch our hearts? it did. what is on the video in the past 30 # or 40 years was on the video there. but the people i can tell you now that work at seaworld from the ceos to the trainers down to
the people that serve the food are all people that love the animals just as much as they love their families. when i go around the parks, which i've done, i'm not an employee of seaworld. have i charged for speeches before? yes, i have. i went to seaworld in 1973. i was one of the first visitors. i continue to take my kids and their kids and hopefully their kids. if i thought one han mall there was being mistreated or wasn't so to speak happy, whatever happy is, and of course some of these guys who know about whales will tell you what happy is and what happy isn't. that's what i see when i visit these parks. and out of sight is out of mind. killer whales 40 years ago were out there in the oceans of the world, knowing what they were, they were out of sight. so that's out of mind. >> all right, jack. we'll get to this. >> but you love something, you have to save something. >> let me just say this. we want to make this a conversation. let's keep it moving back and forth. billy hurley, i know you said you were disappointed in what you saw. what do you mean by that and how
so? >> i think it's a moving piece of media. for me there's a personal side to it which is dawn is a friend of mine. it's hard to watch that scab be picked emotionally over and over. that was difficult. professionally i have a hard time with it as well. i felt like the film distracted people from what is really important about whales and dolphins, and that's the challenges they face this the wild and the responsibility that we have to conserve them. and part of the conservation is have the animals in the care to learn from. it's critical. it's critical for us to learn as scientists. it's critical for kids and other generations. >> gabriella, let me ask you this, when you took on the project, this was to be a focus on how could a trainer be killed by an animal they cared so much for, right? >> that's right. >> but it clearly progressed. you obviously had a change of mind or you found a different focus. >> yeah, you know, i didn't come from animal activism. i was a mother who took her kids to seaworld. so when i found out about this
tragic event, i thought to myself it didn't square with anything that i knew. i know killer whales don't kill us in the child. i didn't understand why the story kept changing. it was kind of confounding event. i started peeling back the onion. the first thing i learned was kiln couple had killed twice before. i learned about the social strife within the tanks. i couldn't believe it. it was so shocking. just fact after fact was pretty shocking to me. >> we should point out and be very upfront that seaworld was invited to participate and be a part of the program. also in all the reporting i did we asked over and over. each time seaworld declined. but they have clearly said they believe this film is inaccurate and they believe in in ways it is inappropriately taking the death of this trainer how do you charge with that one? >> it is really the thing i grapple with the most.
i was early on in touch with her family members. i interviewed both of her sisters. they're not going to focus on her death and that one day. their energies are put towards remembering dawn a a person and how she led her life. and i can only sort of say that, you know, didn't know dawn. i wish she was more represented in the film in some sort of way, but i also sort of can only hope that if dawn knew of this movie she might be okay with something that protects the whales she loved and dedicated her life to and protects and keeps her, her fellow trainers safe. >> let me bring in naomi rose. this issue goes far beyond just the death of a trainer clearly for a person like you. >> i'm a killer whale biologist and orca biologist. i care about the animals. i appreciate the concern that billy expressed about picking the scab of the wound. i believe it was a tragedy, but
if any good can come out of it for the animals, then that's what i'm hopeful of. and i don't think that reporting about this incident, which was a culmination of a number of other incidents is inappropriate. i think it's very newsworthy. clearly the public is concerned about it. it's completely appropriate to address this issue in this format. >> jack, i'm going to ask you here. the benefits of captivity so people understand. summarize if you would. >> sure, there are benefits for the public. again, out of sight, out of mind. how do they know to love something? to save something? at the end of the show it was incredible how you saw the five or six characters in the show up there in northern alaska, whatever it may be, seeing the killer whales in the water smiling. that was great for them. guess how many people get to see
that? 1/10 out of 100 people in the country. the ending of the show really says it all to me. those folks on the show weren't forced to be killer whale trainers. they chose that. indy car drivers chose that. seaworld, these folks would never put anyone knowingly in harm's way. that's ludicrous. that's what the show represents as far as i'm concerned. >> the show will continue in a moment. nearly three years after the death of brancheau, we will talk about if trainers should be allowed into the waters with orcas and if they can ever return in a moment. (announcer) scottrade knows our clients trade
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welcome back to this anderson cooper special report "inside blackfish: killers in captivity." i'm with guests tonight. orca biologist naomi rose and jack hanna, director of the columbus zoo. thank you for coming back. naomi, let me ask you this. the question here is captivity. you say captivity kills orcas. you're very up front with that, right? >> right. i've studied them for 25 years. i feel very strongly in captivity their lives are shortened. we have done some analysis of the mortality rates.
we are going to present this information at a scientific conference in december. the mortality rates on an annual basis are three times as high in captivity than they are in a well studied population in british columbia. some well will say not all live as long as they do in british columbia. but it's an indication of how long they can live when they are out in the wild, and they don't come close to that in captivity. to me that's the metric that we should be looking at. if all of the benefits that billy or jack will be talking about are in fact something we can get out of seeing these animals in captivity, are those benefits worth the cost to the animals, and given how much we know about them now, that science has taught about them? i argue no. >> this is a debate that has evolved over time. over decades, actually. and billy, let me ask you this. it used to be back in the '60s. '50s, these creatures were
virtually unknown. in many cases i know they were used as target practices by certain navies because they were considered monsters. we have learned as a result of having them in captivity. >> there's no doubt about that. there's a couple of ways of looking at this as well. i too have spent 25 years working with marine mammals with human care. i've had the opportunity to study them in the wild. i've also had the opportunity to use the relationship and the positive reenforcement training we have with the animals to find out the secrets of how they do what they do. maybe it is physiology or productive needs, nutritional issues. these are important things. and so naomi's point, is there a cost? is in an exchange? we spend a lot of time talking about statistics and analysis and whether seaworld or other killer whale holders have done a better job as years progressed. we can talk for hours and hours. but the fact of the matter is we could not learn how the animals do what they do and turn that into conservation and protection of animals without any knowledge
of what they boilgs abiology an is like. >> let me bring up this point. and we say seaworld. there are many marine parks. it should be pointed out. it's not just seaworld here at all. but gabriela in this particular discussion, when we talk about the value of keeping these creatures in captivity, the lessons learned reached a point where some scientists say okay, we've learned. it's time to let them go. what we learned is telling us these are creatures we shouldn't have. >> that's the strange little ironic thing about it, right? yes, i almost to jack hanna's point, you know, yes, we did sort of learn to grow to love them by seeing them up close and the data we were able to gather, you know, for the scientific community and learning about them. obviously there was some of that as well that came from the captive population there. but it seems that the most important thing that we learned from having whales in captivity
is ironically that they should not be in captivity. >> jack, what about this point? that seaworld, of course, really introduced us to these creatures, to these animals, almost where we fell in love, and many people would say they did fall in love, but they are now faced with this dilemma people fall in love and care. if i care, how could it be possible we keep the animals in a cement pool? how do you answer that? >> again, i'm not a whale researcher or whale expert. all i see is what i see at sea world. animals that see happy, that are eating, that are breeding. i'm not sure about the life spans. i know they do research in the wild. is the research in the wild 100%? absolutely not. i've been doing this 42 years. i've interviewed researchers all over the world at the whale. you have to love something to save something. we use the word captivity, by the way. what is captivity, by the way? the entire world, the north pole and parts of the amazon, having been to all the places. the whole warld is a national
park. they're smaller when you come to seaworld or maybe the columbus zoo. but the new african belt is not captivity. the new polar bear exhibit for $26 million is not captivity. the zoos gave over $150 million to the animals in the wild in one year. the columbus zoo has given $12 million in the last ten years. >> all right. i get it. >> that's not what we're coming from what jack is saying. >> may i say something? >> i really do hear what jack is saying. i'll let bill and naomi talk more about the science and conservation aspect. the most heartening thing i would say that came from my experience with making "blackfish" is really the young people. the teenagers and young kids that have e-mailed since and, it's sort of like there's a whole younger generation that knows that just because it's magnificent and awe inspiring and beautiful doesn't mean it's yours. >> but i get jack's point.
what he's saying is if we don't get to see the creatures right up close and really get to look them, they're going to be lost to us. if they're lost to us, we don't really care. in other words, we're building up this appreciation of an environment, of an ocean that may be threatened. of an animal that is really part of a much bigger world. >> i think one of the things that jack said that is really relevant is in certain situations you can provide a habitat or an environment that is very similar to the wild. and the animal may in fact not be aware that it's in confinement because you give it a large enclosure or the african belt, as the it were in the safari park. you can't do that for killer whales. you can't do that for orcas. >> we have to take a break. billy, i'll let you respond to that. as you saw in tonight's film, tilikum's story is not a fairy tale. he was captured from the wild, 2 years old then. he was punished and deprived of food at the the first water park where he lived up in canada.
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. welcome back to black fish killers inside captivity. black squn fish follows the story of tilikum, an orca that was captured 27 years before he killed seaworld trainer dawn brancheau. but it was those years in captivity themselves that turned tilikum into a killer? that's really the question being debated here. here's a clip from blackfish. >> he's not killing because he's just crazy. he's not killing because he doesn't know what he's doing. he's killing because he's frustrated, and he's got aggravations, and he doesn't know how to -- he has no outlet for it. >> now tilikum is spending a great deal of time by himself and basically floating lifeless in a spool. >> three hours now and he hasn't moved. >> naomi, that's a very strong contention, because we're almost implying there's a motive,
there's a reason here. tilikum is a murderer. he's a killer because he's driven to this. do you buy into that? >> no, i think what was said is he's not a murder. he's just acting out. we're very fragile compared to them. and unfortunately when they act out like that out of frustration, somebody is injured or dies. the problem here is the way they interact with the animals, the trainers are put at risk. they come to understanding as with elephants, protective contact is the only way to keep them safe. >> do you think there's a way -- >> the only way to keep them safe is through protected contact. don't get in the water. do not touch them. stay a safe distance back. it's bad for the whale's welfare. it's important for them to have the only bond that's left with them is with their trainers. therefore it's the only way you can guarantee your trainer's safety is through harming the welfare of the animal, you shouldn't have them in captivity
in the first place. >> do you think it's possible, billy, that these trainers, they are not allowed to go in the water now due the a government edict that came down, do you think it's possible they could go back in the water? do what they were doing? the high flying stunts, the gymnastics? all of that? ? >> absolutely. i'm the only person on the panel who is an animal trainer and the only person on the panel who dedicated his life to working with the animals. but much like a horse who doesn't like his ear tickled but rather his mane comed out, you need to know the individual personalities of these animals. seaworld has many years and thousands of hours and many int interactions to show they are safe. i'm just going to have to disagree with that and the opinions of those in the movie, i just don't agree with. >> i can see you shaking your head. >> no, i'm not an animal trainer or whatever. but i've spoken a lot to them. there are many trainers working
now at seaworld getting ahold of me and talking about aggressive incidents. and there were i don't know how many documented. almost 100 documented incidents of aggression between trainers and whales, and you know, there could be 1,000 undocumented ones. these are animals, obviously incredibly frustrated, incredibly bored, who are all prone or can kill or definitely attack trainers. and do. >> and that came out in the osha here in which i attended. it was an eye opening experience to hear from the seaworld employees who were on the stand who with there are not voluntarily and being questioned by the osha attorneys and having to acknowledge the number of incidents that were not, in fact, recorded. they have 100 incidents on record. and some that were never recorded. >> i'll put up quickly that seaworld is planning to appeal that. jack, let me ask you this. do you think it's possible that trainers at seaworld interacting
with the creatures in the water again? and you're going to get the final water here. they say what happens is countries change the leadership. they go back to hunting whales again. the research and education that seaworld is providing all of us is indescribable. i hate to see that go. as far as going back into the water, that's yet to be seen. i wish i knew the answer to that question. if seaworld trainers are contacting you guys, what they just said, they should leave seaworld. that's like saying, oh, i can't climb a building and clean windows anymore. let's get out of here. that's unbelievable these trainers are calling them and saying that. seaworld has done a great job. just like they took the california condor and brought it back to the wild now. example after example. plus one last thing. did you thank seaworld for the beautiful whale they saved with jj the whale that came there? they knew it was too big for the tank. >> jack, nobody is going to
disagree that seaworld does a lot of incredible rescue work. i don't think anybody doubts that. it's just the question of captivity remains out there. and we have got to go. i am very sorry we are so quickly out of time. jack hanna, gabriel gabriela cowperthwaite, naomi rose, thank you all for joining us. this continues next on crossfire. ♪ [ male announcer ] staying warm and dry has never been our priority. our priority is, was and always will be serving you, the american people. so we improved priority mail flat rate to give you a more reliable way to ship. now with tracking up to eleven scans, specified delivery dates, and free insurance up to $50 all for the same low rate. [ woman ] we are the united states postal service. [ man ] we are the united states postal service. [ male announcer ] and our priority is you. go to usps.com® and try it today.